Up-Date on our late potato harvest

Finishing up the last bed with straw and finding a decomposed straw bale

Finally we found the time to cover the last bed with straw. We divided a complete straw round bale over the bed, so the bed is nicely covered and ready for the winter. Our two older kids where very good helpers and my husband lend us a hand as well.

We had to put a protection of some kind around the beds, because the dogs kept digging in them. We have an electric fence we set up around the bed, but without putting power on it. The visible fencing is enough to keep the dogs out.

These 3 beds are ready for winter

After that we wanted to cover the plant beds beside our fence we had not covered yet. Therefore my husband wanted to pick up an older straw bale, which was sitting up right since last year, to bring it to the beds with the tractor. This straw bale fell apart, because it was decomposed completely.

The decomposed straw bale with straw bales sitting up right in the background

Partly we had set some straw bales on a flat side (which you normally do not do) to use them as a windbreaker. What happens is that the rain soaks into the straw bale this way and the straw will decompose. We did not expected that it would decompose this quickly. This was also not visible on the outside. Actually this is just what we where looking for when we started pressing straw. We can buy straw directly from the field. We just need to press it and bring it home. So this way we can get mulch relatively cheap with the idea to compost the straw for soil to build up our property. Since we have little soil and mainly rubble on our property.

Straw bale planted with different salad and herbs

Also I had planted on top of some straw bales last season. I put a layer of soil in the middle to plant in. What I found was a big problem with water. I had 2 straw bales sitting in the sun al day. These bales I could water al day long. I gave up on these. I had one straw bale sitting in the shade from noon. This one did better. I had cucumbers in there and they grew, but it still was not very good.

Straw bale planted with cucumbers

I think it was too early to use the straw bales this way. The water leaks out to quickly when the straw is not decomposing jet. Probably it will give a better result when I would use the same straw bales next growing season. I will try it out and will share with you.

Now getting back to the theme we had. We have to see what we can find to cover the beds beside our fence, since we have used up our last straw bales for windbreakers. Maybe our pile of straw still has something usable. We will find out another day.

Our late potato harvest

Snow on our potato bed and frost. Will the potatoes be OK?

We did not get to harvesting our last potato bed and then we had snow and frost. I was worried the potatoes would get damage from the cold and that the mice would find them and eat them. This is a picture after the snow melted. As you can see there is not much covering the potatoes. The straw mulch has for the bigger part decomposed and left the potatoes partly uncovered. So I had already seen that there are a lot of green potatoes to throw out.

After I started to harvest I found that these potatoes had grown very well. These potatoes gave us the best yield of all the potatoes we had grown this year and I am very happy I got to harvesting them.

Halfway through the harvest my husband started on the other rows where we had grown potatoes to pile up the beds again, so we can cover them before winter comes.

Going on with the harvest I pulled these potatoes out of the ground on only 1 1/2 meters double row potatoes. For the last meter our little one came to help and we found an even greater abundance.

While harvesting I found 2 mice nests in the potato bed and I found only 2 potatoes damaged by the mice. So the mice did not do much damage. But with 5 cats on the property there can not be many mice here. And even our dogs dig for the mice.

To cover the beds we will use hay this time. We have hay that has been rained on several times, because it sits beside the door of our barn. Only recently we got doors for our barn, but this hay has gone bad already. Normally we would not use hay, because that is food for the animals, but this time we can experiment with hay in comparison to straw.

My husband brought the hay with the tractor and finished prepairing the beds.

Meanwhile we collected all of the potatoes out of this one bed in the wheel barrow. We got the wheel barrow almost completely filled out of about 6 meters bed with 2 rows of potatoes.

Our children helped me divide the hay over the beds. We had enough to cover 2 beds properly. The 3th bed will be covered with straw, but we did not get to that on this day.

The idea with these 3 beds is to compare if there is a difference in reaction by covering with hay or straw and to see what these beds do next year. We are moving coming spring and will not plant anything in these beds, but by our experience in the last 2 years the very small potatoes that are left in the ground will sprout and give a nice yield. We hope that will happen with these beds also and we can come next fall and harvest some potatoes. We will see what pests will do and if there are many weeds. We will keep you informed.

What my husband and son also did on this day was collect all of the plants in containers and put them together on a some what protected spot to hopefully come over the winter good.

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